Stonewall UK issue statement regarding 5 days of transphobic backlash

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Stonewall UK have issued a statement regarding a recent and still ongoing transphobic backlash that has seen hashtags like #StonewallOut trending for multiple days.

In a tweet Stonewall UK, Europe’s largest LGBT charity, linked to an article by a Metro UK contributor. The writer is anonymous and tells the story of their child saying they are a boy and reflecting on how wider society reinforces gendered stereotypes and cisnormativity.

Cisnormativity being a fancy way of saying viewing cisgender people as the default, best or only option. In the case of the story from The Metro UK; cisnormativity happened when this child told their teacher they were a boy and the teacher told them they couldn’t be because of their body.

Overall the piece itself is underwhelming, considering the drama surrounding it. It’s just an attempt to generate more awareness surrounding trans and gender non-conforming youth and how we often unconsciously teach them to repress that. However that hasn’t stopped people, including Deputy Leader candidate for The Green Party Shahrar Ali, from launching into a tirade over it. Many went as far as calling Stonewall UK and their supporters child abusers and worse.

Stonewall’s Tweet attracted attention due to transphobia and the rise of anti-lgbtqia+ sentiment around the globe which has normalised calling queer people child abusers again. The tweet, which paraphrased the article, reads; “Research suggests that children as young as 2 recognise their identity. Yet, many nurseries and schools teach a binary understanding of pre-assigned gender. LGBTQ-inclusive and affirming education is crucial for the well being of all young people.”

 

The original article also reads; “I suspect her teachers don’t think she’s ‘old enough’ for gender nonconformity, despite published research confirming that children as young as two to three recognise their gender, and can identify their own transness.”

This has generated backlash in which anyone supportive of Stonewall UK is being accused of child abuse alongside Stonewall UK themselves. Numerous MPs and politicians have weighed in, including the aforementioned Shahrar Ali who likened this to teaching children about schizophrenia as if that’s bad for some reason.

(Some children have parents with schizophrenia and should absolutely be taught about that in an age appropriate way.)

Thousands of tweets and retweets have been sent condemning Stonewall UK and calling for businesses etc to disassociate with the charity. This has prompted a statement from Stonewall UK which say they were not being clear but reiterates their support for LGBTQIA+ youth and opposition to gendered stereotypes and cisnormativity.

So what do I think? I think Stonewall UK’s statement here is being read as a grovelling apology by the same people who wanted to read the original tweet as a battle plan to recruit children. Which I think is probably kind of bad on the whole.

The statement, although clumsily worded in the Stonewall UK tweet, is literally just the science of child development. All they said was that research shows that children can know things about themselves by the age of 2 and people went completely bezerk over it.

Transphobes took the original statement and turned it into a threat to do surgery and give hormones to 2 year olds. They took it as Stonewall UK claiming that those 2 year olds were able to fully conceptualise and actualise a trans identity when what their statement actually said was a lot more like “kids can know what their name is”. 

I would have liked to have seen Stonewall UK be a bit more Stonewall riots to be honest. Though their statement is very clearly not in any way a grovelling apology of any sorts and stands by the point they were trying to make when sharing the article. tldr; Educators etc need to be more aware of cisnormativity and better about avoiding gendered stereotyping. It does little to address the fact that they have spent the last four days being smeared, defamed, abused, harassed, attacked, threatened and all sorts of other horrible shit over a transphobic misreading of their Tweet.

They took an absolute beating and their response is “yeah, we weren’t clear whoopsie” when they should be pointing at the hateful propaganda and calling it out for what it is. This statement just feels a bit flaccid by comparison and I don’t think the polite/pinkies out approach is working any more.

Gemma Stone
Gemma Stone is a transgender writer who has been covering the rise of transphobic hate campaigning in the UK. She has written hundreds of articles dissecting aspects of transphobia including debunking blatant disinformation. She is very tired and trying her best, and hopefully having a positive impact on such a beautiful community.

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